July 21, 2015 Special Dispatch No. 6112

Saudi Press: We Must Have A Military Nuclear Program Within A Decade

July 21, 2015
Iran, Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 6112

Following the July 14, 2015 announcement in Vienna of the Iran-P5+1 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Saudi press featured numerous articles openly calling for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to use the coming decade - the time frame of the JCPOA - to develop their own military nuclear program, against the nuclear threat that they say Iran will constitute after the agreement expires.

There have already been calls for a clandestine Saudi nuclear program to parallel Iran's, which were backed up by official Saudi sources. For example, the month before the announcement of the JCPOA, Saudi Ambassador to the U.K. Emir Muhammad bin Nawwaf bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Saud told the Daily Telegraph that if the upcoming nuclear agreement with Iran did not include a serious Iranian commitment to refrain from developing nuclear weapons, then as far as Saudi Arabia is concerned, "all options are on the table." He emphasized that over the years, his country had opposed the development of nuclear weapons, but that Iran's policy on the issue "has changed the whole outlook in the region."[1]

Emir Turki Al-Faisal, former Saudi intelligence chief and Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., made similar statements, on a number of occasions. In April 2014, at a security conference in Bahrain, Al-Faisal called on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to acquire nuclear knowledge to deal with the Iranian danger.[2] The previous year, at the 2013 Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference, he threatened that if Iran developed nuclear weapons, the GCC would consider acquiring its own "nuclear deterrent."[3]

Alongside these statements by Saudi officials, there have been various reports in media worldwide on Saudi intentions to establish a military nuclear program,[4] or to acquire nuclear weapons from a third party, meaning Pakistan.[5]

In addition, Saudi Arabia has recently taken practical steps to develop a civilian nuclear program. In recent months it has signed nuclear agreements with France,[6] Russia,[7]and South Korea,[8] which include the establishment of civilian nuclear reactors in the kingdom.[9]

Following are excerpts from articles in the Saudi press calling for the establishment of a Saudi nuclear program:

No Alternative To Nuclear Arms Race

Dr. Hashem 'Abdu Hashem, columnist for the official Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, called on the Gulf states and Arab countries to work on two fronts - the military front, that is, immediately launching a nuclear arms race, and the diplomatic front, that is, beginning a dialogue with the superpowers and taking advantage of the prevailing atmosphere of economic interests overriding security interests. In his column, titled "There Is No Alternative To The Option Of A Nuclear Arms Race," he wrote: "... The situation is dangerous - very dangerous - and the need to operate on all levels is increasing. There is a need for direct and transparent dialogue with the P5+1 and for working to bolster our self [defense] capabilities as a country, as a single Gulf entity, and as a homogenous Arab group that senses the same threat, thinks alike, and seeks the best guarantees for stability in its lands and for dealing jointly with this new reality.

"Just as Iran has opened the [nuclear] door wide, we must not delay in breaking [the nuclear door] down, with all necessary speed. We must benefit from the [current] international willingness to prioritize economic interests above existing security issues.

"We are facing a new reality, with no room for tiptoeing around the arms race issue. The countries of the region must confer on how best to cooperate and coordinate on this vital issue, now that it has become the preferred option.

"I do not know if such a move will benefit our countries and peoples, but I do know that hesitating or delaying will do us no good. Additionally, such an agreement requires the countries of the region to act to achieve a balance in our relations with all countries of the world, in accordance with the scope of our interests with each country..."[10]

Saudi flag superimposed over image of nuclear reactor (Source:, July 6, 2015)

We Must Establish Arab Nuclear Reactors To Create A Balance Of Power With Iran And Israel

In a similar vein, in his column in the official Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, Jasser 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Jasser wrote, under the headline "So We Don't Fall Victim To The Nuclear Deception": "... A decade from now, Iran will be able to manufacture nuclear weapons... It has the knowhow, which will surely develop in the coming decade, in addition to amassing thousands of tons of enriched uranium - which will facilitate Iran's production of nuclear weapons. Therefore, the countries of the region, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, must prepare for that day, and work to create a scientific base and a nuclear [facility] infrastructure by establishing research reactors for producing energy, that can serve the region's countries [in their efforts] to attain a nuclear balance [of power] with Iran or with Israel. Otherwise, only Arab countries will be targets for extortion, by both Iran and Israel."[11]

Saudi academic 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Tuwaijri wrote in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat: "... Today we are on the threshold of a new crisis that requires the Arab countries, and the other members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], to take the necessary actions to deal with this dangerous challenge, and strengthen and expand the [Saudi-led] Arab coalition [operating in Yemen] to meet this challenge with strength and determination... We have entered a new phase of dangerous challenges... There is no escape from taking the initiative and establishing nuclear programs that are similar to the one agreed upon between the superpowers (the P5+1) and Iran, and under the same conditions, and [there is also no escape] from bearing all expected and unexpected consequences [of establishing these programs], in order to preserve [the Arab] lands and to defend their existence and security."[12]

Saudi Arabia Must Develop A Secret Nuclear Program So That It Can Produce Nuclear Weapons In 10 Years

Al-Jazirah columnist Khaled Ibrahim Al-Hajji set out the steps that he says Saudi Arabia must take to develop a nuclear program in the coming decade: "... Training Saudi personnel in the field of nuclear energy that will produce results, as part of a known timetable [concurrent with] the term of the Iranian nuclear agreement; recruiting outstanding Saudi students for this program, along with a special staff and financial benefits in line with their scientific capabilities; establishing nuclear energy Research and Development [R&D] centers within the timeframe of the Iranian nuclear agreement; conducting clandestine scientific research in absolute secrecy to preserve national security; and recruiting nuclear physicists and scientists from around the world to work in Saudi Arabia in return for special benefits, and granting Saudi citizenship to those who desire it. The Saudi nuclear program will be ready to develop and produce nuclear weapons that will deter Iran's nuclear program once its agreement with the superpowers expires..."

Al-Hajji concluded his piece by stating: "The timeframe of the Iranian nuclear agreement should be long enough for us to build a Saudi nuclear program that will serve as a deterrent to the Iranian nuclear program."[13]



[1] Daily Telegraph (UK), June 8, 2015.

[2], April 24, 2014.

[4] The pro-resistance axis Lebanese daily Al-Safir reported that the Gulf states had made a strategic decision to use the coming decade for a nuclear and ballistic missile arms race, which received American approval at the May 2015 Camp David summit. According to the report, Saudi Arabia has devoted $60 billion to the program, which would make it a nuclear power by 2025. Al-Safir (Lebanon), July 7, 2015.

[5] An American official told the British Sunday Times that Saudi Arabia has decided to acquire readymade nukes from Pakistan., May 17, 2015. The BBC reported that Saudi Arabia provided financial support for the Pakistani nuclear program with the aim of purchasing nuclear weapons in the future., November 6, 2013. The World Tribune reported that Saudi Arabia sent money to Pakistan for the purchase of nuclear missiles, which would be delivered once Iran possesses the same capability., November 13, 2013.

[6] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 24, 2015.

[7] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), June 19, 2015.

[8] Al-Hayat (London), March 4, 2015.

[9] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 24, 2015.

[10] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), July 18, 2015.

[11] Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), July 20, 2015.

[12] Al-Hayat (London), July 20, 2015.

[13] Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), July 20, 2015.

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